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Association of Retinal Neurovascular Impairment with Disease Severity in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: An Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography Study.

BACKGROUND: Identifying the fundus objective biomarkers for the major depressive disorders (MDD) may help promote mental health. The aim of this study was to evaluate retinal neurovascular changes and further investigate their association with disease severity in MDD.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study conducted in the hospital enrolled patients with MDD and healthy controls.The retinal neurovascular parameters for all subjects, including vessel density (VD), thickness of ganglion cell complex (GCC) and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL), and optic nerve head (ONH) eg are automatically calculated by the software in optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA). The severity of MDD including depressive symptoms, anxiety, cognition, and insomnia was assessed by Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD), Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA), Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) respectively.

RESULTS: This study included 74 MDD patients (n=74 eyes) and 60 healthy controls (HCs) (n=60 eyes). MDD patients showed significantly decreased VD of superficial and deep capillary plexus, thickness of GCC and RNFL, and volume of ONH (all p <0.05) and increased vertical cup-to-disc ratio and global loss volume (GLV) (all p <0.05) compared to HCs. Positive associations were found between HAMD scores and cup area (r=0.30, p =0.035), cup volume (r=0.31, p =0.029), and disc area (r=0.33, p =0.020) as well as ISI scores and RNFL thickness (r=0.34, p =0.047).

CONCLUSION: We found the retinal neurovascular impairment and its association with disease severity in MDD patients. OCTA showed promise as a potential complementary assessment tool for MDD.

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